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History of the Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg

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Air Force Missile Test Center AFMTC | Hoyt Vandenberg Biography

Biography of Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg

 USAF General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, 1899-1954

Hoyt Sanford Vandenberg was one of the founding fathers of the United States Air Force. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1899, he spent his teenage years in Lowell, Massachusetts. He attended West Point, where he was a poor student, graduating near the bottom of his class in 1923. Given a choice between being a pilot or an infantryman, he chose the air, and upon earning his wings, "Van" served as a fighter pilot over the next decade in Texas, California and Hawaii, while also attending the Army War College. When Pearl Harbor occurred, Van was working in Washington as a staff officer, but soon went to combat in North Africa in 1942. An outstanding planner, staff officer, and leader, he moved up in rank and responsibility during the war, serving as the main air planner for the Normandy Invasion, negotiating a basing agreement with the Soviets in Moscow, and finishing the war as a lieutenant general and commander of the Ninth Air Force in Europe. The Ninth, which had over 180,000 personnel and 4,000 aircraft, was the largest air command in history. While in command of the Ninth, he worked closely with the great commanders of the war like Generals Eisenhower, Bradley and Patton.

When the war ended, Van returned to Washington where he served as the Director of Central Intelligence for a year. In 1947 he was promoted to full general-at age 48 he was the second youngest American ever to reach the four-star rank-and the following year was named Air Force chief of staff. During his five-year tenure as chief, Vandenberg faced numerous challenges: the Berlin Blockade and subsequent Airlift, the formation of NATO, the fall of China to the communists, the development of the Soviet atomic bomb, and, most significantly, the Korean War. During all of these events Vandenberg's performance was marked by a quiet competence, tremendous energy, and bold vision.

Vandenberg was an unusually handsome man with an outgoing personality. He and his wife, Gladys, were a dynamic and popular couple. A scratch golfer, Van spent every free moment on the course, but was also a lover of movies, Westerns, and scotch. Unfortunately, cancer was discovered, and his last months in uniform were painful ones. Soon after his retirement, he died in Washington in April, 1954, and was buried in Arlington Cemetery. He is survived by his children, Gloria Miller, and Major General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Jr. (USAF, Ret.)

Log of the Vandenberg

Streets of Reciefe | Norma & John at Ascension | Reciefe, Refueling | Freetown, Sierra Leone | Freetown, Sierra Leone2 | Ascension Pier | Ascension | At Dock | Halcyon Cove, Antigua | Kensington Inn Antigua |At sea | Bow view | Trident Pier | On the River | Winter at sea | Coming Home (Canaveral)|